Legal Toolkit Michigan Alternative Dispute Resolution

What to Know
ADR is a form of dispute resolution that provides an alternative to a lawsuit and a trial. A Plaintiff starts a lawsuit to remedy what is believed to be a “wrong” caused by the Defendant. The wrong can range from an auto accident, medical malpractice, a divorce, a breach of contract, etc. Oftentimes the Plaintiff believes his or her case is extremely strong and will certainly end with a favorable jury verdict; what they often learn through the litigation process, however, is that there are always two sides to every story. In fact, in some instances the Defendant will assert a counterclaim against the Plaintiff claiming the Plaintiff engaged in wrongful conduct that should result in the Defendant obtaining a verdict against the Plaintiff.
What to Expect
ADR processes can take any number of forms and there is not a “one size fits all” process. Certainly, one of the most popular forms of ADR is a process called Mediation (sometimes referred to as “Facilitation”). When the parties mediate their dispute they will hire a third party, a Mediator, who serves all the parties in a neutral role. Often the Mediator is a specially trained attorney who has experience in litigating your type of dispute. All of the Courts in Michigan maintain lists of specially trained Mediators (both lawyers and non-lawyers) who can be selected by you and your attorneys.
What to Do
Your first step is to discuss the benefits and potential of ADR with your litigation attorney. In fact, in Michigan it is the obligation of attorneys who represent Plaintiffs and Defendants to discuss the potential of ADR with their clients if they believe their clients might be interested in or benefit from ADR techniques. Your attorney will have had experience with a whole host of ADR techniques and can explore an ADR plan with you to pursue at the outset of your case (sometimes even before a complaint is filed) and throughout the life of your case.
Where to Read More
The Clerk of the Court of the Macomb County Circuit Court

The State Court Administrative Offices (SCAO)

Michigan Community Dispute Resolution Centers

Community Mediation
What to Bring
As ADR involves a process that may result in the resolution of your case, you should bring to the process a full understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your case and the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing party’s case. Be as objective as possible in this assessment and your attorney can be an invaluable source for your objectivity and heed his or her advice. Your attorney will discuss with you any specific documents and other materials that might be brought.
What to Ask
Among the questions that can be asked of your attorney include:

Can ADR save me time and money rather than pursuing a case through a trial?

Can ADR help me achieve some interests that I will be unable to obtain through a trial; what might be the interests of the other litigants be in resolving the dispute; what possible solutions might address these different interests?

How soon should we pursue ADR; should we consider pursuing ADR even before a complaint is filed?

What types of ADR processes are best suited for my dispute?